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Reflecting on Tragedy

I’m sick right now.  No not with the flu or a cold, not an illness.  I’m sick with sadness, worry and anger.  Yesterday, three people were shot less than a block from our house.  There were children playing right across the street, there were children there!  A birthday party turned into a bloodbath and apparently it was all over two teenage guys wanting the same girl.  We heard the shots, the first few like hammer blows were unsurprising as lots of people were out working on their homes or yards.  But when we heard the rapid sound of firecrackers, Eric and I looked at each other with sinking hearts and said “It sounded like someone just unloaded a full clip, maybe those were gunshots before.”I’m not a looky loo, if I think I can help with a situation I will, otherwise I stay out of it.  But I felt like we were supposed to go find out what was happening.  This is OUR neighborhood.  We plan to raise kids here one day.  Our exchange students walk to and from the bus stop every day.  Eric and I go for walks to explore and get exercise.  This is our HOME, we have to be aware of what’s going on.

This wasn’t the first shooting near us.  Two weekends ago just blocks away, a young Samoan man was killed and his brother severely wounded.  At first I feared the shots I heard might be a retaliation.  I suppose it’s better that it wasn’t, but so frightening that in such a short time, yet another teenage boy would decide to solve his problems with a gun.

Where do 16 year old kids get guns?  Why do they think it can solve their problems?

As I mingled with the crowd, my neighbors I suppose, I heard remarks like “This won’t end unless we all get guns” and “This is the kind of neighborhood we live in, there’s nothing we can do.”  We talked to people who were grieving, offered to pray with people, handed out tissues.  Then we spotted the sister of Eric’s best friend, we hadn’t seen her in years, and the circumstances were not the best to reunite.  When she ran outside to check on their youngest brother, she came face to face with the gunman.

Thank the Lord he decided not to shoot her.

Eric and I have talked about moving, we’ve talked about buying a gun and learning to use it, just in case.  Two things we never thought we’d seriously consider.  While the safety of our family is all important, we also know we are loved by and serve an all powerful God who keeps us under His protective care.

We also don’t believe in running away from problems.  If everyone leaves a neighborhood because crime is getting bad, the criminals win.  We are firm believers in neighborhood block watches and have already started getting our street on board with National Night Out.

But even if we keep our little street safe and crime free, what about the neighborhood?  I’m not ashamed to say we live in the poorer part of town.  It’s the only place we could afford a house!  How can we help these kids whose parents are working 16 hour days, struggling to put food on the table.  We’ve been talking a lot at work about engaging kids who are 5th-8th grade before they get involved in gangs and drugs.  We’ve shared a lot of ideas, but after last night, this has become our number one priority.

I’m a little scared to put this on the blog because I’ve been getting (and deleting) a lot of mean spirited comments lately.  But I’d really love some constructive input and I always want to hear from you, my wonderful readers.

It’s easy to complain about crime, poverty and children with uninvolved parents (NOTE: I’m not saying the parents in any of these shootings were uninvolved, I don’t know them, just a reflection of this area in general).  But what can we do about it?  How can we help the down trodden and brokenhearted?  How can we inspire kids to make a difference instead of destroying lives?  How can we create a positive attitude in the midst of so much hurt?

I know one day I’ll be able to think about this positively, right now I just feel so heavy and burdened, so I’m asking for your help, your ideas.  I hope to be able to get back to posting about fun things like food in a couple days.  Until then, what would you do to make a difference?

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23 thoughts on “Reflecting on Tragedy”

  1. Hi Diana,

    I live in Seattle, too. If you come up with anything to help these kids and need some help please let me know.

    I hope your heart heals.

    • Thanks Koriann, we’ve got a lot of ideas going on at City Hall. We hope to have a meeting with leaders of local youth organizations soon and start a good conversation.

    • Thanks Gina, it’s certainly not something I thought I’d have to deal with but I don’t feel unsafe, just determined to make a difference. Appreciate your good thoughts!

  2. I grew up with guns. My father taught me gun safety and how to shoot when I was still very small. However, I am aware that most people do that not have this particular training, or even someone to show them how to make sure the safety is on.

    I understand your fears as there was a shooting last month just down the street from a friend of mine. Three men were killed.

    The world is a terrifying place anymore. Should you decide to purchase a firearm, be sure to learn how to use it properly. There is nothing worse than a frightened person wielding a gun at 3 am. Visit the shooting range and practice. You’re already aware what guns can do, just be careful and sure of yourself before you fire.

    • Very good points Amanda. Eric and I definitely agree that if we did purchase a gun we would be well trained with it. It also means we’d have to be willing to take someone’s life. That’s what’s holding us back. Even in self defense, the idea of killing someone knowing that it has eternal consequences for them is heartbreaking. Right now the answer is no and we’re praying that community involvement will be the solution.

  3. Diana, I am so sorry about this. I definitely think some kind of afterschool program would be a start. Start getting these kids around people who are good, I really think they need positive role models! Also get them involved in activities where they will be able to build their own self esteem. So many of these kids have problems with self esteem and then they join gangs where they feel like they belong and have power(guns). I don’t know if your church is nearby or you have other groups that could help you out in the community. Take care!

    • I so agree!!! My husband and I have led teen recovery programs and the number one thing we see is these kids don’t have adults speaking hope into them or telling them why they’re special. We are thinking along those same lines and I’m right now working on a list of youth organizations/youth groups in Auburn to start a discussion on how we can engage our youth before they get involved in gangs.

  4. Hey Diana
    I feel the same way. this is also only 8 block from where I live and the kid that was killed was a Freshman at Auburn Riverside where I am student teaching. I think it is important that kids stay engaged and out of violence. I think that happens best through out reaches and I’ve seen a lot of impact that church youth groups can do. I’ve worked with the youth group in the Sea-Tac area and that can get some rough kids, but we do tons of outreaches and even Partner with the local YMCA to get kids off the streets and in church and learning about an alternative way to deal with problems. Believe it or not it’s made a small dent in the area and the local schools.

  5. Very sad and the two young Samoan boys played football and graduated with my son at Auburn HS in 2006 and their uncle/family go to my church. It breaks my heart. I just believe that there needs to be more constructive things for these kids to do and they need to be taught that violence isn’t the way, but unfortuneatly society stresses violence and unless the kids are involved with churches and that they don’t learn that there is another way. My heart is heavy also.

    • Oh my, I know their uncle Steve. Eric and I were at the memorial videotaping and shooting photos for the family. It was a beautiful service. I think you’re right that kids don’t learn there’s another way. Walking around in the crowd, so many teenagers and adults were saying that they weren’t surprised by the shooting because that’s the kind of place we live. I disagree!!! We don’t live in a bad area, but we do have some people making bad choices. If we work together we can make a difference!

      • Yes their Uncle is a pastor of the Samoan church which is held at the church I attend and I figured through your guys various activities I have read about that you knew him. I ended up not going to the memorial, but my prayers were with them, especially that day. I know from experience that the services are very hard and even harder when they are young adults/kids because they had their entire life ahead of them.

  6. Josiah here, apparently writing on Alyia’s account. I am so sorry that that went on. My heart breaks for them too Diana. I wanted to let you know that I was touched when I talked about it this morning with Rachael and she told me that you saw her there and ‘took care of her’ and made sure she was okay. You’re a good friend. Keep up the good work, and stay safe.

    • Thanks Josiah, I know now that she was reason God told us to be there. We walked around for 2 hours talking to people before finding her and God told me to go to her. Glad I could be there for her.

  7. I just discovered your blog simply because I was looking for a good lemon chicken recipe (which I found here, made and enjoyed), but this is a very sobering and serious post. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. I admire that you are looking for ways to address large and serious social problems in a local way.

    St. Francis was called by God to rebuild the Church and he had the humility to begin by picking up bricks at a local church that had fallen down. There is a lot of that in your very immediate and local response to a tragedy. Bless you.

  8. Hi Diana,

    I wanted to chime in on your post, even though it is a little bit late. I don’t think a gun is the answer, although of course that is up to you and Eric. Have you seen the show Secret Millionaire? It’s a wonderful, but heartbreaking show. What I’ve taken away from that is even in the most horrible neighborhoods, far worse than where you are, people can make a difference. They form Neighborhood Watch groups, like you mentioned, after school groups, all sorts of programs that are not fancy or government sponsored, but just started out of a need to help their own neighborhood come together and improve, depending on the need. I see you doing that already in your cooking classes down at the Y. I’m sure you find where you are needed the most, and how to make a difference.

  9. HI, I am a new reader and stumbled on this posting while perusing your recipes. I live in Concord, NC- in a section of the old downtown area that borders the beautiful historic district and, pardon the term, “the projects”. God has protected us beautifully in our little home- never have I been accosted, stolen from or threatened in any way. However, I have ridden my bike past a rental home where someone was firing up a crack pipe in the early evening. I have heard several clips unloaded after dark and, even met a young boy, maybe age 7, that told me the shots I had heard the night before were his uncle getting shot. IT is a crazy world.

    What I have found is just simple and practical: Next to wisdom and prayer, I just try being friendly to anyone who passes my home. I try to strike up conversations with kids that pass by. If they look at me like I am crazy, I just smile and wave.

    What I have heard in my heart over and over again is that many teens act like they have a chip on their shoulder because they know adults want to stay away from them. The truth is many adults are scared of teens- their clothes, hair, etc. But, those kids are just “kindergartners” in big-kid bodies and they just want to be seen, loved, respected and disciplined.

    Not sure if this gives any new ideas- just an understanding perspective.

    • Thanks for your insight Andrea. I totally agree with you. My husband and I take walks regularly to interact with our neighborhood. As a Hawaii girl I’m used to saying hi to everyone, not so normal in the Pacific Northwest, but I do it anyway! We’ve worked with teens for years and really love them. While a lot of adults are scared of them, we can see their insecurities and desire for love so clearly. It’s funny when we go to the state fair or other events with teenagers, we always end up hanging out with a group of them at some point. When we leave, we hear them say “those are cool old people!” I love and share your perspective.


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